The FSBO Temptation

sebfreyCommentary, For Sale By Owner


Everyone knows, the market is pretty hot right now. Depending on where you are, you could add some superlatives to that – “blisteringly hot” would not be too hyperbolic to describe, say, the Silicon Valley real estate market, particularly up around the neighborhoods where Facebook, Google, and Apple live. In fact, California is home to 12 of the nation’s 20 hottest real estate markets! If this were a supermarket, you might say that the inventory is just flying off the shelves. The amount of available inventory in many parts of the country can be measured in weeks, not months – and in some neighborhoods, it can be measured in mere days. Now that’s hot! In times like these, many a home owner thinking about selling their home will be tempted by the idea of selling it themselves – becoming a “For Sale By Owner” (FSBO). And why not? In many neighborhoods of Silicon Valley, an entry-level fixer-upper goes for $1,000,000. A 6% commission comes in at a whopping sixty grand! And for what, loading the home on the MLS, putting a sign in the ground, and waiting for the offers to flood in? If that’s all there were to it, then obviously, that would be $60K poorly spent. Instead of looking at the issue from the perspective of the cost of a commission, a homeowner would do well to consider, rather, how much they would net from the sale using an agent, versus not using an agent. The bottom line is really what counts, right? If … Read More

Real Estate’s a Dirty, Nasty Business


Real Estate's a Dirty, Nasty Busines

Thirteen whole years. That’s how long I’ve been in the real estate business. I remember the first time I talked to the guy who would become my broker. He asked me what I did for a living at the time, and I let him know I was a computer consultant. “Why would you want to go and trade a nice business like that for a dirty, nasty business like real estate?” he asked. I remember I laughed out loud; I thought he was joking. As the years have gone by though, it’s become abundantly clear though that he was completely serious. Turns out that real estate is, in fact, a dirty nasty business. Perhaps you’ve seen “Million Dollar Listing” on the Bravo network – I’m a fan, of both the New York and Los Angeles versions (I prefer New York). I’m not so hot on the new Million Dollar Listing San Francisco, but I’ll give it time.  These shows sure do make the business look fun and exciting – but rest assured, they leave most of the truly sordid details on the cutting room floor. They have to – because if the practice of real estate in L.A. and New York is anything at all like it is in my neck of the woods, there’s all kinds of stress, animosity, and incompetence which isn’t what I’d call sexy but, when you’re in the middle of it, can be plenty dramatic. After 13 years and hundreds of homes sold, I’ve finally gotten to the place where I am pretty well … Read More

For Sale By Owner Safety Checklist

sebfreyFor Sale By Owner

Safety Checklist

Selling your home can and should be a rewarding experience for you and your family.  Helping you ensure that it is a safe experience should be a top priority for any homeowner.  Recently, the news has been full of stories about Beverly Carter, a real estate agent who was kidnapped and murdered by a supposed “buyer.”  Your safety is a serious business!  Please take some time to review this For Sale By Owner Safety Checklist with anyone you know who’s thinking of selling their home, with or without a real estate agent. 1) Use the Buddy System. There’s a reason why the buddy system is so popular: there’s safety in numbers. With that in mind, plan never to be alone in your house with strangers. If you are going to be showing your home, make sure that you have someone there with in the house at the time. 2) Be a good shepherd.  Often times, buyers will come in groups. If you have more than one person in your home, make sure that everyone keeps together as you go through the house, so you can keep an eye on them. Thieves often work in pairs; one can distract you while the other rifles through your home looking for valuables to take with them.  Don’t give them the opportunity! 3) Make a date.  Don’t allow people to just come by any time. Remember, you want to make sure that someone is there in the home with you, and that you’ve had time to properly prepare the home to … Read More

Advice for FSBOs from a Real Estate Attorney

sebfreyCommentary, For Sale By Owner


I have been a member of Quora for some time now, but like a lot of sites I join, I haven’t participated much. But lately I’ve been spending more time on the site, and I came across a Quora question asking if real estate agents will become obsolete. Since real estate agency is my bread and butter, I started reading the thread. There’s a variety of perspectives on this, but one reply I found particularly interesting, written by a former real estate attorney, which read in part: In addition to the inherent complexities of even the most run-of-the-mill real estate transaction and the tremendous financial stakes involved, real estate transactions are emotional.  You’re not dealing with a lawn mower, a refrigerator, or some other fungible good, you’re dealing with someone’s home–a place where the seller’s memories were made and where the buyer wishes to make new ones.   This is a highly personal transaction, and the potential for doubt, insecurity, second-guessing, mistrust, defensiveness, cold feet, confusion, paranoia, and, therefore, conflict is extremely high.  The role of realtors throughout this process is invaluable. Go ahead and read the whole reply, or even read the whole thread (although it’s kind of long).  I found it very interesting because often times the debate about the value of Realtors centers around marketing, and how today a For Sale By Owner (FSBO) can do so much marketing on their own, further diminishing the value of having it handled by a professional.  While professional marketing is very important, the value of an agent in terms … Read More

What you Need to Know When Selling your Home

Seb FreyCommentary

What's Important to Know

Do you know what you need to know when selling your home? You may know some of it – but contains information on literally every aspect of the home selling process. Every homeowner needs to know certain information when selling their house. First, how much is your home worth in the present market? It’s crucial to have a realistic understanding of your home’s present market price before you do anything else, as knowing this will set the direction of every step you take after that. Once the current market price is known, the next question is, what cost-effective things can be done to increase that price? You see, it might be that just a few changes to your home may increase the bottom line when you sell. Depending on your home, it’s not unreasonable to expect you could enhance it’s resale price by 5 or 10% in the eyes of buyers with some smart tweaks and improvements. Another important question homeowners need to ask is how long will the home take to sell? Will you be able to buy a new home right away, or will you have to wait for your current home to sell first? The cost of selling a home is another important factor. How much will the whole process really cost? Or, looking at it another way, how much will you walk away with after the sale closes? Another common question is, should you try to sell the home yourself and save the commission, or should you use a real estate … Read More

Blue Light Special Turns Red!

Seb FreySanta Cruz Real Estate

Blue Light Special

A month ago, I wrote a blog entry about a homeowner in Soquel who was having a blue light special on the sale of his home. redlight.jpg I guess it didn’t work out so well – his Soquel home is now back on the market – for $829,000, or about $79,000 more than it was on for sale about a month ago. … Of course, this home is in Soquel, which is considerably more expensive, but the median there is only $610,000 (although the average is $843,000). This time around, rather than trying to catch the buyer’s eye with a lowered price, the seller is trying to catch the Realtor’s eye – with a juicy 4% commission to the buyer’s real estate agent. … A strong incentive, to be sure – but of course, we Realtors are duty bound to hold our clients’ interests above our own, and persuading your client to over-pay on a real estate purchase in exchange for a healthy commission seems like a breach of fiduciary responsibility to me.

Santa Cruz For Sale by Owner – Blue Light Special!

Seb FreySanta Cruz Real Estate

Actually, a savvy Realtor will look at a FSBO like an opportunity ripe for the plucking – because most FSBOs will eventually end up listing with a Realtor after they give up in frustration trying to sell their home on their own. … Or if, somehow, he does sell the house for $100,000 that means he will have, effectively, sold the same house for 6% more than his neighbor just sold his. So, either his neighbor could have sold his house for more money, or the buyer of FSBO house at $100,000 is paying too much for it.

…For once, there’s a FSBO seller who isn’t interested saving money – he just wants to sell his house quickly, and is giving the buyer an opportunity to save some cash on the commission.